UPDATE: 10:56 p.m.
Louisiana is back on cruise control in the Sun Belt.
CAJUNSSS WINNN!!! #RingTheBell as the Cajuns hit 100 for the 2nd time in @SunBelt play this season!! They tie their best start at home in school history as they sit at 13-0 at the #Dome!! Bartley finishes with 25 pts as 5 Cajuns score in double-digits!!#SunBeltMBB #GeauxCajuns pic.twitter.com/gAQlCyn5Gn— Ragin' Cajuns MBB (@RaginCajunsMBB) February 18, 2018
Georgia State cracked the Ragin’ Cajuns perfect league season two weeks ago, and left the door open to make a charge at the regular season title. But since then, Louisiana has bounced back in a big way.
That included a 100-79 beatdown of UT Arlington at home this evening. The Ragin’ Cajuns are the most athletic team in the Sun Belt, and have had success when they speed up the tempo, as they did tonight and last Saturday against Georgia Southern (where they put up over 100 as well).
The usual suspects did it again for Louisiana: 25 points from Frank Bartley, 14 off the bench from sixth man Johnathan Stove and 10 rebounds from Bryce Washington. Bob Marlin also got contributions from freshman Cedric Russell (12 points), who hit double figure scoring for just the second time in league play, and sophomore Justin Miller (10 points, 6 rebounds), who had his best game since returning from a head injury suffered in early February.
With the Panthers having lost back-to-back games, Louisiana now has a three-game lead with four to play. The Sun Belt is all but wrapped up.
And as a postscript, UTA has eight (8!) league losses. The depth limitations have been clear for a while now but still, no one saw that coming.
UPDATE: 7:48 p.m.
So this tweet did not age well:
Big West power rankings:— Kyle Cajero (@kylecajero) February 16, 2018
1. UC Santa Barbara
5. [Sheriff Drammeh just drew a charge and fouled out this list]
Two weeks after UC Santa Barbara snapped UC Davis’s 19-game home win streak, the Aggies returned the favor by winning 71-54 in the Thunderdome.
Led by T.J. Shorts II’s 20 points (on 9-10 shooting!), the Aggies took a quick 9-3 in the first three minutes and didn’t look back. UC Davis outshot the Gauchos’ league-leading offense by connecting on 54.9 percent of its field goal attempts. UCSB was held to 19-57 from the field, and an uncharacteristic 6-21 from three.
Shorts has stepped up ever since Chima Moneke was suspended indefinitely on Feb. 3. The JuCo transfer has not only put him in the conversation for Big West Newcomer of the Year, but also conference player of the year.
“He’s the best point guard in our conference.” UCSB head coach Joe Pasternack said after the game.
Even without Moneke, UC Davis outscored the Gauchos 36-24 in the paint and won the battle of the boards, 36-31.
Fletcher Magee. Fletcher freakin’ Magee.
17-26 from the field
And Wofford beat Chattanooga, 74-64.
UPDATE: 6:59 p.m.
George Washington is putting a nice finish on a disappointing season.
It’s a final from the Smith Center! Yuta goes for 23 and Terry scores 18 in a dominant win! #RaiseHigh pic.twitter.com/qUYBTtqm69— GW Men's Basketball (@GW_MBB) February 17, 2018
The A-10’s second-least efficient offense during league play has now put up 80 points or more in back-to-back games, including a dominant 80-56 home win over VCU this afternoon. Yuta Watanabe was the star against the Rams (23 points, 9 rebounds), but freshman point guard Terry Nolan is in a nice stretch, averaging 18.5 points and just 1.5 turnovers over the past two games.
The Colonials surge slightly jacked with the league standings, as it dropped VCU to 7-7 amid four other teams within a game of fourth place. And with upcoming games against Richmond and Davidson, an improving GW can continue to be a mild spoiler.
UPDATE: 6:16 p.m.
It was fun while it lasted, New Mexico State.
The Aggies dropped their second straight game — this time at Seattle — to put the nail in their at-large bid’s coffin. There may have been a flicker left since their midweek loss to Utah Valley did fall into quadrant two due to the Wolverines’ solid RPI.
But the 73-63 loss at Key Arena doesn’t have that qualification. The Redhawks currently have a fluid 175 RPI, and while that’s not egregious for the Aggies, their margin for error was tiny. But the more important question may be what can be done to fix issues that have arisen over the past few games, which include the two losses and a close win at home against Grand Canyon.
Their offense has been inconsistent lately, with Zach Lofton the only one to get anything going against Seattle. Their biggest advantage has also slipped the past two games, as they were outrebounded by Akolda Manyang-less UVU, and edged by the Redhawks on the glass as well (44-43).
On the other side, Seattle picked up a signature win in Jim Hayford’s debut season. The Redhawks’ 19 wins are the most since the program rejoined Div. I for the 2009-10 season, and it was just the second time they’ve beaten NMSU since joining the WAC.
UPDATE: 5:55 p.m.
At least one northern direction school won today.
Northeastern beat William & Mary, 69-67, on a layup from Vasa Pusica as time expired. WATCH:
VIDEO: Vasa Pusica’s layup beats the buzzer and gives Northeastern a 69-67 victory over William & Mary pic.twitter.com/TXM0s5gZxV— Steve Hewitt (@steve_hewitt) February 17, 2018
UPDATE: 3:10 p.m.
ALWAYS FOUL UP THREE WITH LIMITED TIME LEFT!
Fairfield, seeking its first-ever win against Quinnipiac in Webster Bank Arena, learned this lesson the hard way on Saturday afternoon. Up three against the Bobcats with under 14 seconds left, Quinnipiac’s Rich Kelly dribbled around. It looked like a bizarre, lost final possession until he managed to nail a beautiful shot to send it to overtime.
Witness this beauty for yourself:
Tied! Kelly (30 pts) with a big time 3 with 1.9 left. 84-84. pic.twitter.com/wDybCEzTjj— Quinnipiac Men's Basketball (@QU_MBB) February 17, 2018
UPDATE: 3:07 p.m.
Anyone know who this is? Please let us know in the comments, but we realize we’re going out on a limb.
Honoring @dauminator24 pregame for joining the 2,000-point club! #GoJacks #FindAWay pic.twitter.com/uG3XpJdZVn— JackrabbitBasketball (@GoJacksMBB) February 17, 2018
We’ll be honest: The big boys have the stage today, and that’s fine. The mids have more fun, sure, but the chaos in the Big 12 needs to be sorted out somehow.
However, while the world is watching Trae Young and whatever nonsense is happening at the Phog, there are some important happenings under the radar.
For one thing, the Mountain West. UNLV visits San Diego State and Nevada plays at Utah State in a CBS Sports doubleheader this afternoon/evening. Make sure you’re around starting at 4 p.m. EST.
In the south, Grambling goes for its 11th win in a row. The Tigers aren’t eligible for the NCAA Tournament this year because the APR is stupid, but let’s pretend that’s not the case. We all assumed Texas Southern was the runaway SWAC favorite, but its struggles have left the door open for an NMTC member to make some noise pre-March.
We’ll check in here throughout the day, but for now, these are the games to watch. All times are Eastern:
Navy at Boston University, Noon, CBS Sports
Toledo at Ball State, 2 p.m., ESPN3
BYU at San Diego, 4 p.m., ESPN3
LIU Brooklyn at Wagner, 4 p.m., NEC Front Row
William & Mary at Northeastern, 4 p.m., CAA.tv
UNLV at San Diego State, 4 p.m., CBS Sports
Nevada at Utah State, 6 p.m., CBS Sports
Saint Louis at Richmond, 6 p.m., FOX Sports Midwest
Lipscomb at Florida Gulf Coast, 7 p.m., ESPN3
Middle Tennessee at Louisiana Tech, 7 p.m., Facebook
UT Arlington at Louisiana, 8 p.m., ESPN3
Yale at Harvard, 9:30 p.m., ESPNU
Montana at Idaho, 10 p.m., Pluto TV, which I guess exists